(or Lack Thereof) and Zen
By Magda Pescariu
This summer was the first time in my life when I understood the idea of drowning in honey. To a person born and raised in a communist regime at the time of its ghastly dérapage into dictatorship, in a depleted country with long and harsh winters, ‘too much of a good thing’ has always been a meaningless and scornworthy concept. ‘There is no such thing as being too hot, too rich, or too slender’ was our favorite joke as girls grew into women, and I carried the torch of this belief to the day. Well, at least to the days of this summer, when the once beloved scorching heat and intense light have suddenly felt too much and the vital force of a season I’d absolutely loved thus far seemed one day suffocating and inescapable – a passion gone awry.
The feeling took me by surprise and filled me with dread. What was wrong with me? Was I getting old? Why would I let the joy of a well-deserved break between assignments and the sweet idleness of summertime be spoiled by the sweltering heatwave that was melting the city and inducing my spontaneous combustion?
Right when I was treating my newly emerged depression with a mix of humor, chilled Prosecco and the A/C running at full blast, I got an email from a close friend, with a promising subject line: ‘For inspiration and Zen’. Since my friend has a remarkable sixth sense, I opened it immediately, hoping that it would bring some relief to my moody restlessness, but it wasn’t the case. The email was wordless, just a photo; in fact, the one I’m showing you below. My friend had come across it somewhere on Facebook and found it hilarious and thought-provoking. Knowing that I was about to prepare my fashion notes for the fall article, she teased me with this suggestive image of the 2017 men’s fashion compared to the one of 1940s. I chuckled at first, rolling my eyes in disbelief, and hurried to reply that I’d take Cary Grant for a close encounter anytime, anywhere. We laughed about it back and forth, but the picture somehow bothered me. How did we get here? And why? Of course I didn’t think that George Clooney, Jason Statham, Shemar Moore or Robert Pattison, for that matter, would ever make a beeline to purchase the featured 2017 outfit, but, hey, we were talking about ready-to-wear here, so the picture gave me pause. What was it saying about us and our creativity? Or about our self-esteem? Have we, as an Italian fashion critic mocked a similar look on Facebook, come to deserve our extinction? I couldn’t believe that, not even as a victim of heat exhaustion and all.
I rushed back to my files, where a few hundreds catwalk photos and tens of fashion show reports were waiting for my browsing, in search of the most relevant fashion trends for the upcoming fall-winter season. Fine, I said to myself, maybe this happened to male style when bored metrosexuality has gone wild in an uncontrollable skid; for sure it’s not the case with women. So I took in patiently collection after collection, runway show after runway show and trend after trend to prove my point. The first impression was disquieting. Not only were there again too many trends, too different, too vague, soulless, scattered and pointless, failing to give fall or winter a clear personality and flair; but also, not even a third into my search, I realized that women’s fashion was suffering from the same disorder as men’s. I picked one snapshot just to give you an idea of what’s out there, in the outlandish offering pool, but the fact that there were so many to choose from saddened me to no end. How was I supposed to help you refresh your wardrobe for the first dewy mornings or frosty afternoons? Say, get your comforter, wrap it around in the most bizarre way, cinch it with a red belt, and go to work? Even so, it would look too nice comparing to the directions received from some runways, and it would be too feminine, without the trendsetting eccentricity and bulky weirdness de rigueur.
Despite my findings, I carried on my research with hopeful stubbornness. I may not love cold, but I love the cold season fashion. I’m fond of the tender time when summer dissolves into fall and find the autumn leaf colors irresistible. ‘Every leaf speaks bliss to me’, as it did to Emily Brontë. I have faith in the spirit of creativity, in that state of mind which makes everything beautiful, elegant, inspired, and possible. That couldn’t be everything that fashion designers all over the world had imagined for the upcoming fall and winter style. And, there you have it, my faith paid off. By the end of my inquiry, I found out that the language of autumnal bliss is not at all a dying dialect, but an evolving one, and that everything this season has to say, it says it with roses.
With my heart back in its place and before any more disappointments crawl up my screen, let me give you a heads-up on the 2017-2018 Fall-Winter women’s fashion trends. The general look emphasizes a major influence of the 1940s and their powerful and poised velvety woman, yet with a ready-for-the-Moon futuristic twist.
The working girl wears jackets as dresses, no pants, no skirts, only with show-stopping shoes. The shoulder line is vigorous and commanding, helped by shoulder pads and duvet-style padding. A century after women could be arrested for wearing trousers in public, pantsuits and padded jackets with slim-fitting slacks pay a cool homage to the legendary strong women everywhere, seeking to be recognized at least as an equal force, if not greater.
Sterling silver, pearly-gray lamé, glittering gold, sci-fi pewter, and out-of-this-world
galactic prints add the upbeat and high shine of the Space Age to the women style designed to defy the upcoming cold season and face the downfall of yet another year. All this metallic shimmering is gently toned down by dusty rose and complemented by muted turquoise.
Feathers and wild fur convey the same message of timeless women enlightenment, whose realization today came to close the arc of time opened so glamorously in the 1920s. The wild fur (faux, absolutely) is puffy, rich and multicolored, in bright cherry red and starchy white, leopard print or joyous macaroon pastels. Feathers
are sumptuous, the must-have accent of the season, either as details on cocktail dresses and coat collars, or as étoile shawls embellishments. The most luxurious ones are the ostrich feathers, for sure, but plumes and marabou feathers come in a very close second.
The outerwear has structure and a grand presence, but is comfortable and soft in keeping us cozy and warm. Sheep skin, blanket-fabrics in big checks, quilt-padded sport-wear, highland knits in vivid patterns and lively colors, and appealing jersey knits in sophisticated block colors make the cold season palatable and something to look forward to.
Last but not least, denim is highly in vogue in all its looks – vintage, statement, distressed or raw, doubling down an already huge charisma and its representation of modernity. We see everywhere denim reinterpretation of the pantsuit, in the complete range of traditional colors, from rinse wash, black wash and acid wash, to light, gray and white denim.
There are other trends as well, which I’d call subsidiary only because I like to keep things clear and simple, without confusing readers with too many (irrelevant) options. But as always, the selection and decision of what you’ll wear to survive the first sleet and live to enjoy the first grog is ultimately up to you.
That being said, you could opt for other depictions of the futuristic twist, such as the plastic-looking fabric and accents, the Matrix-style or all left-undone. You could choose a between a scarf print, polka dots, or folklore prints and the fringed look, all putting forward a rich heritage and a wide selection pool. Or you could cave in to the nostalgic attraction of the corduroy, which is back as a daywear staple, reviving a disco era we hoped we had buried forever long time ago. Precisely resurrected from the same grave is the sloganeering trend, politically minded or punchier fun, both with an irksome teenage aftertaste, but nonetheless abundantly present. Personally, I see no reason to mix the ’70s with the exceptional lines of the 1940s projected into the future, but this is a free country, designers’ inspirational moments seem to be fewer and farther between than ever before, and not all of us have gotten the Zen fashion memo yet.
With all the seasonal trends lined up and sitting pretty in my fashion commentary, I felt better. For even if some runway pictures clearly suggest that 2017 is going to hell taking fashion with it, or that this planet has become a sickly place to inhabit lately, devoid of inspiration and savoir-faire, there are far many others showing how we manage to preserve our sanity and finesse, and telling our story of ever-changing in harmony. It suffices to look at Chanel’s 2017 Collection to understand the value of class and heritage, to feel reassured of the human race’s ability to keep its compass, and rejoice in normality. Now we can breathe in the autumnal bliss, make peace with the Halloween paraphernalia and the Thanksgiving hoopla, and yield the right-of-way to the passage into another year in a state of grace. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it? Thank you, Mademoiselle Chanel, I bow to the divinity in you.